It’s that time again when every man and his dog make predictions about what will happen next year [I’d like to hear the dog’s predictions. – Ed]. Most of these will be either too dry, dusty or saccharine to stomach, with others jumping the shark and swinging their lightsabers purely for column inches. At Firefly we’ve got a bird’s eye view from our fifth floor office, so we’ve been wracking our brains for predictions that aren’t too outrageous, but stand a good chance of making an impact on the communications landscape next year. So bear with us with one final animal metaphor as we present our ‘not too hot and not too cold’ 2016 predictions:
In 2016, traditional media publications will come to terms with new ways to monetise content. While PR experts have been dipping their toes into paid media – largely through social channels in my experience – journalists have been slower to deal with advertorial, native advertising and sponsored content as a core part of what they do. In 2016, it will be part and parcel of their role.
Other media channels will slowly continue to formalise their monetisation. PR predictions that don’t mention Zoella are like tech predictions without Uber, and with the news last February that the lifestyle vlogger bought a £6m house in Brighton, you can’t deny her importance. Zoella’s spot product placement fee is now around £4,000, meaning that there’s little doubt paid ‘Tubing can work. However, the vlogosphere is still a confusing arena to work in, with little fee consistency or ROI. That’s largely because it’s risen up from the grass roots, rather than with defined advertising teams. This will not become any clearer in 2016, making it vital that PR consultants do their homework.
As Google (and others) get smarter and move towards natural language rather than just keywords, off-site SEO practitioners may find themselves getting squeezed out. A lot of PRs aren’t dabbling in large scale pay-per-click campaigns, but as Google ascribes more kudos to brand mentions occurring within a curated source, i.e. with an editorial team, public relations practitioners may find themselves with an unexpected opportunity.
Driving app downloads will continue to require sophisticated programmes. Google’s (and Microsoft’s) app indexing proposition – driving app use from mobile search – will help a great deal with what has been a tricky challenge for a lot of brands. Getting users to download an app – rather than simply signing up for a newsletter – without a clear understanding of benefits, user re-assurance (i.e. reviews), and brand ‘buzz’ via earned and shared channels is tough, making a combination of PR, social and paid activity necessary to drive success.
In 2016, we’ll get over the wearable hype and get into more useful wearable applications. To some extent, this has been going on for a while with Fitbits and FuelBands etc. but the iWatch has really tipped this over the edge. It’ll be an interesting challenge for PR and marketing folk to work out how they optimise content for an ever more fragmented tech landscape – many haven’t even got to grips with mobile yet, let alone wearable or virtual reality (VR).
Regardless of whether you spend your holiday break calibrating your Fitbit, messing around with Google cardboard, or simply stuffing your face with turkey and … uh … stuffing, we hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and look forward to bringing you more insights and success in 2016.
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